From the resplendent questzal in Costa Rica to a splended variety in the nature preserves of Europe, here are best birdwatching destinations around the world.

Birdwatching (ornithology)

Birdwatchers observe wild birds in their natural habitat. It goes by a few different names birding, birdwatching, and ornithology. Why are people so interested in birds, you ask?

When the Big Bang occurred mostly all species of dinosaur died, except for the ones with flight. If you don’t know, well birds are technically reptiles. They have scales, their offspring are laid in eggs, and they have claws. When people say that dinosaurs are extinct they are technically wrong. Here’s an interesting piece that explains this in detail.

They have adapted over time and come in what seems like endless variations. The study of birds and their prosperity directly correlates to the health of the landscape they live in. Ornithologists will take soundscapes of areas every year or so at different points in the year and compare the soundtracks.

There are birds that thrive solely because there is an area of scorched earth and others because there are dead trees called stags. They come in all shapes and sizes and not all correlate with the idea of lush green tropical forests. When you go out you might see a new one!

Oostvaardersplassen (Natuurreservaat), Lelystad, Nederland

Oostvaardersplassen (Natuurreservaat), Lelystad, Nederland. It’s quite a mouth full though “The New Wilderness” is home to foxes, geese, kingfishers, deer and Europe’s largest herd of wild horses.

It depends on what time of year you visit the park, though there are more than 50 different species of birds, even eagles. There are tours for bird watching on the Almere side where you have a great view from the Oostvaarders center. Inside you can use binoculars on the third floor of the building (for free) where you can see a large part of this flat swamp. This is one of the few locations in Europe where you can see animals in their natural habitat!

blue and orange long beaked bird

Photo:Vincent van Zalinge via Unsplash

Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve, Portugal

Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in all of Europe. They have a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it’s known to have 364 days of sun, making it one of the top places to surf in the world!

The coast also offers an excellent concentration of diverse habitats. In the River Tejo estuary, only 20 minutes from Lisbon, you can spot over 100 species of birds in a single day! The Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve is the largest humid zone in Portugal and one of the ten largest zones of its kind in Europe.

It was created to protect the migratory aquatic birds that live here. During the migration season, the estuary receives over 120,000 birds, in particular the black cowbirds that concentrate in this zone, constituting over 20% of the species’ population in Western Europe. Pink flamingos, a sight we’re sure you’ll love, concentrate in the salt pans of Alcochete, south of the reserve.

Photo: Charles J Sharp via Wikimedia Commons

Dursey Island, Ireland

Dursey Island is the Island of the Bull in Viking Norse. Located off the southwest coast, this peaceful island is connected to the mainland by Ireland’s only cable car. The wee island is is only 6.5 km long and 1.5 km wide, separated from the mainland by a stretch of water called the Dursey Sound.

Dolphins and whales are regular visitors of Dursey, in addition to a wide range of different types of seabirds and butterflies! Visiting from southern Europe are the Bee-eater and the Hoopoe that has a distinct crown of feathers on top of its head. Here you can also see Manx Shearwaters, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins.

Learn more about Dursey here.

orange bird with a crown of feathers. wings black white thick striped. long beak

Photo:Andres Campillo via Creative Commons

Lake Massaciuccoli, Italy

Massaciuccoli is the name of both a town and a lake just outside Lucca, Tuscany, along the Versilia coast. Fun fact: Italy has Caldari di Ortona which is a fountain that dispenses free red wine 24/7.

The lake became famous all over the world thanks to the composer Giacomo Puccini who lived for a long time in a villa on the lake. There are nearly 300 species cataloged in the area, which is protected as a nature reserv called LIPU Oasis.

Spread over 47 hectares, it has been created to safeguard the rare species living in this lake-side environment. Spot Little bitterns, diving ducks, grebes, great cormorants, coots, herons and the western marsh harrier. You can take a boat ride through the rushes and marshes or enjoy an excursion on board a canoe, kayak or rowboat.

Lake Massaciuccoli italy birdwatching

Lake Massaciuccoli. Photo: Federico Parenti via Flickr

Ujście Warty National Park, Poland

European roller is the only roller species to breed in Europe. The Ujście Warty National Park is at the mouth of the Warta River and lies on the border of Poland and Germany. This park has plenty of trees and marshes perfect for the Roller to hunt and nest. The River Warta flows through the park’s center

There are 248 species of birds in the Warta River Mouth National Park of the 160 species have chosen the park’s territory for breeding purposes. This includes 26 rare and protected species! Rare or protected and include the corncrake, the aquatic warbler, the black-tailed godwit, the crane, the bittern, and the white-tailed eagle. There is also quite a sizeable population of grebes, ducks, rails, gulls, and terns. Learn more here.

sky blue bodied bird whit orange wings

Photo Michele Lamberti via Wikimedia Commons

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Spot the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica. It’s hard to believe but these birds aren’t actually green, their feathers are translucent and dark brown. This is very similar to a polar bears fur!

Quetzales can be found in Monteverde Cloud Forest located along the Cordillera de Tilarán within the Puntarenas and Alajuela provinces. This forest is within tropical or subtropical mountainous environments, where the atmospheric conditions allow for a consistent cover of clouds. They have 400 species of birds here with an average sighting of 1000 Resplendents per day! Learn more here.

royal green bird with black tipped wings and blue tail feathers

Photo:Ryanacandee via Creative Commons

Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

The Cassowary in Eastern Australia, the bird they used for the movie Up, is literally descended from dinosaurs and supports the classification as the most dangerous bird on Earth. They can run 30 miles per hour and jump 6.5 ft in the air!

More often than not, the main reason for attacking is self-defence as they are a very shy species. They are flightless, so they are a bit territorial.  There are safe ways to view them!

The can be found in the 180 million-year-old Cape Tribulation in northeast Queensland, Australia. it is tens of millions of years older than the Amazon and contains living ancient plants as well as thousands of species of birds, animals, and reptiles! Huge cassowary birds peck their way through the undergrowth in Daintree and one of the best places in Tropical North Queensland to spot crocodiles is along the Daintree River. Learn more here.

ostrich sized black bird with royal blue neck and helmet best birdwatching destinations

Photo: Jonathan_moreau via Wikimedia Commons

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